Google is reportedly developing a new search feature called “Big Moments” to highlight important information about the latest news in real time.
The Information reports that Big Moments has been in development for over a year and aims to address Google’s shortcomings in news selection.
Work on this project began after Google employees expressed frustration at the lack of useful and timely information on the latest news.
Google search tends to be the destination for people to get the facts about a news event after it has happened.
Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, are the places where people are most likely to turn to for information while an event is taking place.
Google wants to be a single source of information for people, whether they need information about something that happened yesterday or they want the final details of an event that is happening right now.
Whenever possible, Big Moments will provide historical context about events and go beyond what Google generally shows in news article search results.
If the story is a natural disaster like a hurricane, for example, Big Moments can list authoritative facts about the number of deaths and injuries, as well as data on the frequency of hurricanes in the region.
Google can pull information for Big Moments from open source data repositories like Data Commons, which collects data from US government agencies and is hosted by Google.
While this feature is an entirely new project, it is based in part on the machine learning capabilities added to Google News in 2018.
The team behind Big Moments is led by Google veteran Elizabeth Reid, a senior executive in charge of products and engineering for search experiences.
Reid began overseeing Google’s search experiments in April of this year, but has been with the company for more than 17 years. Previously, Reid led engineering teams working on Google Maps, Google My Business, and other geolocation-related projects.
Too ambitious for Google?
With Big Moments, Google is getting closer and closer to making the editorial decisions that news publications must make every day.
The main difference is that these decisions will be made by algorithms, while editorial decisions for news posts are made by humans.
Even with advances in machine learning, is it possible to replicate the level of critical thinking that takes place in a newsroom?
This can be particularly difficult when trying to maintain an unbiased stance while covering polarizing events.
Google already has powerful critics claiming that its search results are skewed. Imagine how closely Google will be watched when it starts publishing feed.
Information on rapidly changing events is notoriously difficult to cover.
In fact, Google recently added a search results notice to let people know when news results can’t be completed because events change too quickly.
Human curators are not an option in this case, as that would only add more time to get the information out and Google’s goal is to keep the news incredibly fast.
A Google spokesperson told The Information that Big Moments has already been tested in live search results.
It is not known when the feature will be released and in what way. Google plans to put it through more tests and evaluations before then.